DITOSA

Ditosa. Joy, Happiness, Dear, Blessed.

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I was given my Capoeira name last Saturday, after 12 sessions into this beautiful, graceful martial arts.

I was praying for a good name and I wondered what ‘blessed’ was in Portuguese. When Leao said it was just luck that he found my name so late in the game before Batizado, I say, nope. I am my name after all.

I was given my white belt, to symbolize that I am now part of the Kadara Capoeira family and that I am now Capoeira-ready.

Birthday Purples

My life is a colorful one. I’ve always had that uncanny ability to find colors and shapes and oddities wherever I go.  On my birthday month, I felt this restlessness in me that needed to be satisfied.  It wasn’t the birthday blues because I wasn’t sad at all to be at this point in my life.  At best, I was at peace and grateful, at its worst I was just restless.  I called it my birthday purples. I have in the past month, taken a pottery class, archery, and even batik painting.

I’ve invited my friends for over a year now to join me in finding a Capoeira class.  But no one was quite interested to pursue it, until I figured, this is a good a time as any to do something I’ve always been intrigued with and never had the hutzpah to pursue.

I found Kadara Capoeira online and remembered when I was consulting for Vibram FF  in 2012 that Coach Joseph Pagulayan and his team joined us at the Vibram launch.  I messaged, asked a lot of newbie questions, and with a lot more uncertainty when I began, I went to my first Thursday class at Fisher Mall.

You. Don’t. Know.

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Playing with Mestre. Photo by Iluminada

#1 I am so out of shape that any physical anything is already strenuous for me.  Of course may warm up. Nag jog pa around the gym. Nakow. Hingal ba kamo?

#2 I have no hand-eye, leg-hand coordination skill whatsoever.  You know those fandango sa ilaw steps, where they teach you the foot movements first, and when you get that right, they teach you the hand movements next? I did well in each of those two (2) separate parts. Eh pinagsabay. Wala na. I still wonder to this day why I passed.

Capoeira is my same nightmare in a different gym.  Foot work okay.  Combine it with the simplest of hand movements, akin to walking naturally, I get lost!

#3 My memory sucks. And then there are combinations of movements.  I know! I know! I got into this precisely because of its dance-like quality. I should have been prepared for complicated moves. Why am I now being such a baby about combinations of movements? Because it takes time for me to remember anything.  I have to write it down, draw it if I must, and repeat again. And again. And again. Sabi nga sa Bato Papo, Rinse and Repeat.

We also partner off.  My poor partners! They suddenly become student-teachers to this newbie slow one, that I have to apologize every time I’m partnered with anyone. But this is when I start realizing I will be okay – when whoever I’m partnered with takes time to teach me with joy and patience and love. Even the youngest at 11 years old, on my first day in his sweet tiny voice, tells me what to do and what I’m doing wrong and assures me I’ll get it right in time. I now listen to wisdom from 11 year-olds.

#4, #5 I have no rhythm and I cannot, for the life of me, sing. What? We have to rhythmically clap, and sing/chant. This is consistent with my coordination issues.

#6 The songs are in Portuguese. *longer sigh. My language acuity is deplorable.  I work for an organization where I must learn another international language and I have been delaying it for 3 years precisely because I don’t learn new languages well.

Ano ba talaga pinasok mo, MARGARITA? Marami ang binigay ni Lord sa yo na talents, bakit ka nagsusumiksik sa wala kang alam?

So let’s re-cap in different languages how to say zero:

Coordination skills, NULA. Memory, SIFIR. Rhythm, JELO. Singing skills, KHONG. Language skills, NULL.

Batizado E Troca De Cordas

The past week, our mestre from Brazil and instructors from Australia visited us for our Batizado E Troca De Cordas.  It was a week of learning from the master himself, and Capoeira practitioners of over 15-years.  It was a joy to see them teach and demonstrate.  It was truly a sight to see.  But more than the technical skills, I appreciated the life skills they generously shared. And it wasn’t a put on, it wasn’t for show, these Capoeiristas truly live what they preach as you feel their sincerity to share this beautiful art.

Mestre w Instructors

Photo by Atomica

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With Mestre Cicatriz. Photo by I don’t remember

That it’s not an age thing.  Capoeira is not dictated by age.  It is your personal journey embraced, accepted, and protected by your Kadara Capoeira family.

Trust the process.  Submit to it.  Show up. In the beginning, you may feel like an outsider looking in, where you take lessons from your seniors and your instructors. In time, you will learn to incorporate your own self in the movements, relax into it and by so doing allow the Capoeira to flow out of you.

Freedom of Movement. This was my first attraction to this art.  People moving elegantly, gracefully, beautifully. And I see it in my seniors.  If anyone wants to see ‘cool’ manifest, come to any of the Capoeira classes. They take their time, they are not flustered.  They give. They take. They balance themselves, then proceed.

Capoeira is going to be part of my life now.  Kadara Capoeira, my new family.  Family, I may joke around, scream inside the roda (I’ll try to relax, promise) in fear or excitement, laugh aloud, and generally not be cool… but know that I only deflect my fear, embarrassment, awkwardness by trying to be funny.  It is no way indicative of my respect for each one of you who have lovingly allowed me to part of you.  I take the art seriously.  I will try harder. I am trusting the process. I will show up.  Rinse and Repeat.

But as a fellow (but better) newbie  said, please continue to be patient with me. At ZERO, I have no other place to go but up, right? Right?!

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Kadara Capoeira. Photo by Foguete/Capoeira Kadara Philippines

 

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Heroes for Children Run Sept 4, 2016

My goodness.  It’s been awhile.

Working with UNICEF has been one of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.  Combine that with organizing a run and I’m doubly fulfilled!

The first Heroes for Children Run last year was a huge success in may fronts.  First, it raised 3 Million pesos for the #first1000days programme of UNICEF – essentially and literally saving lives of children before 2 years old to make  sure that they have an equal chance at a better life in school, at work, and in the community.  Second, it allowed more people to know about UNICEF and how their various programmes help in nation building.  Third, non-runners became runners and we had fun!

This year, Anne is at it again.  Continuing what she started and solidifying her role as a strong  Advocate for Children in the Philippines.  Getting to know this lady is such a privilege.  Her sincerity in using all her being to bring light to UNICEF’s cause is palpable and contagious. Hearing her talk and work on the #heroesforchildrenrun is a joy.

Heroes for Children Run 2016 press conference

TAGUIG CITY, Philippines – (L-R) UNICEF Celebrity Advocate for Children Anne Curtis, UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander, and Coach Rio dela Cruz pose for photographers during the Heroes for Children Run 2016 press conference held at the F1 Hotel, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, 10 August 2016.

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Team Endure’s Clarky

So, if there’s one run you cannot miss this year, I implore you to not miss this one.  I have harassed my triathlon team, Team Endure to run this one and we have registered and are ready to be Heroes for Children on September 4.  In a sea of Cyan blues (UNICEF’s color), we will be in Endure  Cobalt blue.

In-store registration is ongoing until 28 August 2016 at the following Chris Sports outlets: SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall,SM City North Edsa, SM City BF Homes, Glorietta, Market! Market!, Robinsons Place Manila, and UP Town Center (from August 15 to 28)

Friends and fans who want to support Anne but cannot physically run or be present on race day may donate on her personal SimplyGiving fundraising page at http://www.simplygiving.com/event/HeroesforChildrenRun2016.

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Ironman Participants

To my friends and teammates who are racing 70.3 tomorrow,

I am ever so proud of each and every one of you who have taken on this very personal challenge to swim, bike and run a half ironman (HIM) distance.  Some may be doing it a second time, a third maybe, but the feeling of ‘have I done enough? trained enough? rested enough?’ is a nagging peripheral thought just the same.  For the HIM virgins, this is on the forefront of your mind right now.

Let me tell you what I have to say about that (go ahead and skip the next paragraphs as I have no authority whatsoever in triathlons, more so an IM 70.3.  But since you’re my friends, you will read on *wink):

You have done enough.  YOU are enough.  You have always been enough. 

You were never lacking in any iota of a measure.

Sure, you didn’t reach your intended time last year, had to dnf perhaps, naunahan ni __________, and every null thought you can possibly think of.  But didn’t you aspire to do better this year? Trained earlier (uyyyy, may natamaan)? Ate better? ‘Had girl abs in the process?

Whatever happened last year, is just that – the past.  You’ll never regain it, you can only learn from it.  What you have now is the present.  Whatever you’re doing now, is what you need to be doing.  What you will be doing tomorrow come gun start,  is as it should be.

The finish line?  Done. It is its own present. The Start and the Finish are the same. So why fret?

Enjoy everything – the smile that people will generously give you, albeit nervous, enjoy it.  The pat on the back, the good lucks, the godspeeds, the well wishes, the all important prayers.  Carry them with you as you race.  With every swim stroke, every bike pedal and every step, you are where you need to be.

Say a prayer of gratitude at the gun, say, ‘Thank you, Lord for making me finish this race’. This is how you claim His promise 🙂

For when you know by Faith that you’ve finished the race, getting to the finish is easy.

So, Carina, Mike, Raff, Noelle, Hanna, Joy, Jon, Nico, Kuya Jun, Coach Al, Ronnie, Argow, Marge, Vic, Jet, Redge, Bong B, Chance, Eric, Arbs, Joni, and all I know who’s racing tomorrow, this one’s for you. *Cheers *Clink

Get Ready at the Start Line of 100 Miles Cafe

Friendships are born from common interests. Wency and I have two – running and food : he runs ultras, I support; he manages cafes, I eat.

I first met Wency, Jael to some when BZ requested that we ‘adopt’ a runner in one of the initial test runs of the 102km Bataan Death March. A quiet guy, Wence did his own thing in the run, never really needing anything from the test run support crew.  What struck me most about him was his fair skin-hahaha. In my head, is he sure he wants to darken that alabaster skin? Apparently, he was sure. He finished the test run with no qualms  and the rest of his ultramarathons  thereafter with a passion for running and a discipline for it like no other.

Fast-forward to 2013 when he asked for some taste testers to try out the menu they were developing for their new café, the 100 Miles Café.  Buti na lang I had some experience with taste testing when I was working for the Cravings group years ago – it didn’t hurt that I loooove food too.

Wency and his family  manage a couple of Figaro franchises, Cafe Bonifacio and Oriang.  All with delicious menu to choose from.

100 Miles Salad

100 Miles Salad

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

The Classic Carbonara

The Classic Carbonara

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Broccoli and Asparagus Pasta

Broccoli and Asparagus Pasta

Sausage in Soft Taco

Not in the pictures above are the malunggay soup and the mushroom, basil, and feta cheese pasta.  Ang takaw kasi namin ni Kokoy naligtaan mag picture 🙂

Me, Wence and Kokoy

Suffice it to say that we enjoyed it.  All the pasta were cooked al dente, just the way it should be.  The bolognese and the carbonara were classic recipes that you will love! I will definitely order the 100 Mile Salad with its 3-dressing and the broccoli and asparagus pasta as soon as the Cafe opens.

Pero parang may kulang…..

yeMARGA flan may finally make its retail showing at 100 Miles Cafe. Abangan! (teehee)

yeMARGA flan may finally make its retail showing at 100 Miles Cafe. Abangan! (teehee)

I can’t wait for the 100 Miles Café to open and you can be sure Wency’s ultramarathon comrades will be there to support his new project and to maybe just carbo-load, recover, hydrate, chill, hang-out. 

Cheers, Wence!

Nota Bene: (The 100 Miles Cafe is located at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=483100015085406&set=a.483067385088669.112464.483060431756031&type=1&theater)

TAKBO.PH

(This is a long-overdue gratitude blog for Jinoe and Que; am glad that it comes on the heels of this voting thing as a game changer for the tattawards.)

My foray into running began in 2008 when I got sick and needed to drastically change my sedentary lifestyle.  Not only did takbo.ph give me an opportunity to read through accounts of hundreds of people who ran,  takbo.ph also allowed me to be who I am without being a subject of ridicule or judgment – considering running is a sport and I’m ahhh, well, ahhh….not sporty J  I was big and beautiful.  But I was accepted.  I was made to feel welcome and loved.  As slow as I was, as big as I was, I had a place to be as slow and as big as I needed to be.

It was in takbo.ph that I found really good friends – the kind you find in elementary or high school – where it’s a little bit more pure as when you’re older – you know what Im talking about  – the same interests, humour, wavelength, music, writing style, the same type of kindness – where most believed in good and positivism, where hardwork and discipline are part and parcel of the running lifestyle.

Poster Making for First Time Marathoners

People at takbo.ph are good people.  They are not mean, they encourage, they wait for you to the finish, heck they even pace you from start to finish, they make posters and banners for your first marathon, and much much more.  How much more?  Let’s see…

TAKBO.PH is a Venue to Get People Together

  • Although there may be dissenting opinions in the different fora, it’s managed really well by the administrators; such that when it gets too personal and mean, it gets bumped off; it truly is a venue for togetherness and respectfulness (I know wrong grammar.)
  • As cheesy as it is, there are many a love affair that hails from the site (Aminin! Natuloy man o naunsyami, kinilig pa rin kayo diba? LOL)
  • Businesses made; business partnerships forged (parang LOTR lang ah)

The Iconic TAKBO.PH Tarpaulin

The TAKBO.PH  tarp is an iconic tarpaulin in all the races–every runner wants to have a picture with that tarp – it used to be just one; but as the family grew, and different running groups  were formed, Jinoe and Que had to produce more and more.

The Iconic Banner at McDo

Various Advocacies TAKBO.PH introduced, initiated, and maintained

  • The Breakfast Club was the brainchild of Que and Mar if Im not mistaken, where runners contribute to a gathering for children without homes at Jollibee, play games with them, have a meal with them and have them bring home a loot bag of groceries for their families.

Breakfast Club, Pasay

Botak 100 at KM 81

  • Angel Brigade. Takbo.ph is a staple of Angel Brigade.  When typhoon Ondoy hit, it was takbo.ph who built care packages of sardines, noodles, crackers, milk, water , clothes and more.  They would of course do this after their runs at BHS, but always ready to help…until today when AB asks for volunteers, you know at least 20 pairs of legs will be at the AB Headquarters packing as fast as they can to get the relief goods to our kababayans

Tired Packers

Med Mission, Rizal (Tent City)

Medical Mission, Rizal

  • Mountain Climbers are also runners and through AB and takbo.ph,  we built packages of slippers, blankets,  kulambos, and school supplies and they brought it to the literally far flung areas of the north

Marky on the mountain of Benguet

  • Pencil Project, Better Bones Project are only a couple of individually-initiated projects that tapped into the takbo.ph database and knocked on our hearts to donate items and time, which we all happily did.

MISCELLANEOUS TAKBO.PH ACTIVITIES

Such as the Cervical Cancer and Sports Injury Talk by Doc Dianne and Doc Rannie;  Biggest Loser 1-2-3 where those who joined really fought for this title; as well as the Wine and Cheese Parties at 7 in the morning; games of patintero and luksong tinik even before the BHS backyard was done; of Girls Night Out, concelebrated birthdays, the traditional Noche Buena Run, Bisita Iglesia Run the missing CP2, of bloggers and such

Wine and Cheese

Girls Night Out

Noche Buena Run in UP

Bisita Iglesia Run (From UP to Quiapo

Patintero

Luksong Tinik

The Mysterious CP2

Blogger Friends (Photo by Jazzrunner)

TAKBO.PH  Does Not End with Finishing a Marathon

  • Because of the discipline developed in training for longer distances, inclusive of recovery runs, speed training, tempo run, drills, cross training (swim, bike),  proper nutrition, and plenty of reading , there are different ways of growing in this beloved community
  1. Your Personal Record (PR) is the best way to measure your development in this sport.  This entails listening to your body and not copying your neighbour’s training plan or PR.  Your growth is your own.
  2. 3-5-10-15/16-21-32-42-50-60-70-80-102-160-250km.  I know, I know…the 250km is a relay – hahaha.  As you develop endurance and stamina and a true love/craziness for this sport, you also tend to up the ante as far as distance is concerned.  Have you noticed though that longer distance runners are thinner? hahahaha
  3. Triathlons.  A natural progression to running is multisport /triathlon.  The transition to this is amazing.  I’ve literally seen a n ultramarathoner  – non swimmer (sputtering at the army pool) progress to a couple of Half Ironmans under his belt as well as a Full Ironman Distance  in just 12-18n months time.  As more runners are getting more and more into multipsort, I cant help but be glad that their base is running, for a triathlete can tell you that the game and therefore the finish is made in the run.

Runners turned Triathletes

My life is full and meaningful because I googled running in 2008 and found TAKBO.PH – I read, participated in the fora, shoutboxed during office hours (shhhhh…), bought the takbo singlet, happily wear them in all my races, ran 5, 10, 21, 32, and 42km here and abroad, all the while enjoying the camaraderie of friends  who I know will last a lifetime.

Game Changer you say? I say Life Changer 

To Melvin Pangan — to training, to good health, to friendships, love and respect — A Salute!

MIZUNO INFINITY RUN June11, 2011

The Mizuno Infinity Run is one run I always run J. In 2009, if I’m not mistaken, this was one of my first 10km runs and it was there that Mizuno surprised us with their Time Trial Challenge in an attempt for runners to up the ante in the next year for a continuous improvement in their races.

In 2010, the first race I registered for was  the Infinity Run in their Expo where I got a P100 peso off from my registration fee because I ran the year before.  My friends from takbo.ph won in their raffle where I won a Mizuno backpack, Carina (The  Flying Boar) a cap, Timmy (The KenkoyRunner) a backpack and the best prize was won by Julie Reyes ( HotLegsRunner) with a pair of Mizuno shoes.  All in all a very happy event for all us. Wink wink.

It turned out to be my first race for the year after a much needed hiatus from Japan. And even with minimal training because it was sooo cold, I beat my time which I was very proud of! And if my memory serves me right (it normally serves me wrong, believe me!) I had a fond finish here as well as Rod, Ziggy, and Timmy sent me to the Finish Line.

2011 is going to be a struggle as my training is next to nil because of work and what-have-yous.  Oh well.  At least I can promote this event with fond memories.  Plus! This year too, my multisport family is being sponsored by Mizuno and some of us will act as brand ambassadors on the day itself.

I urge you to join this run on June 11 at the Bonifacio Global City and experience the ‘Never Settle’ attitude of the brand and the runners of this brand.

Assembly time will be at 4:00 am. Gunstart for the 21K runners will be at 5:00 am. The 10K and 5K distance runners will follow soon afterwards with a 10-minute interval between distances.

Registration is at all Mizuno branches in the Metro Manila area. Runners may also register at the Mizuno Sports Outlet in Paseo de Sta. Rosa in Laguna, and at the Mail and More Convergys’s Branch

Registration fee is priced at 600 pesos for the 5K distance, 750 pesos for 10K and 800 pesos for the new 21K course. All previous participants will also get a 50 pesos discount from registration.

Please visit http://www.mizuno.ph or Mizuno Run Club (https://www.facebook.com/MizunoRunClub) in facebook for more details.


Anonymous Runner (Part 2)

KM 81

We saw our van parked by a dirt road at the foot of the bridge.  We parked the car behind them as Nick made us wear reflectorized sashes so we can be seen in the dark.  When we got out of the car, holy kamote!  It was sooo dusty.  We decided to turn over supporting duties at a better location.  So at this point Pat had all of his 10-member  support crew waiting for him at KM 81.

Crew # 2 stepped out of the van and waited because Pat was waaay late in his time.  Sheila told me, “ang pangit na ng itsura ni Pat”, which I thought to mean since it was dusty, and he was sweating, na hindi na gwapo si Pat. Boy, was I wrong! I learned later that she meant Pat was really pale when they left him at the start of the bridge pa lang but that they couldn’t obviously stop at the middle of the bridge so they waited at the end of it.

Irene was the one who saw him from afar.  Walking.  She couldn’t believe that it was Pat, seemingly holding on to dear life on the bridge rail.  She ran to him.  His eyes were closed and using the bridge rail as his only guide. By the time I saw Irene and Pat at the foot of the bridge,  I went to Pat’s right side as Irene was on his left and put my left arm around his waist.  I was whisper-shouting into his hear (amidst the noise  of the busy bridge), ‘what happened? Are you just sleepy?’

And then it happened.  He leaned his whole body weight on me.  It took me a moment to realize he was collapsing unto me.  I grabbed my right hand around the front of his waist to carry him while still walking and called to Nick and Dado and Beeps, “Nick! It’s dead weight.  I can’t carry him!” They were there in a split second and supported us to the van.  Someone removed one ice chest likod ng van so Pat can sit down.  Doc Pnx was on him with a  sphygmomanometer and Doc Apple was taking his heart rate in mere seconds.  Sheila and someone else were massaging his legs.  I think it was Aileen who gave him ammonia or white flower on a cotton ball to wake him up.  His eyes were still closed and he looked pale as heck! And he still was not speaking.  And when he did speak, it was to say with a shake of his , ‘hindi ko na to tatapusin. hindi ko na kaya.’

I stepped back in fear.  As everyone was working on him, I stepped back looking to gain a little bit of sane perspective of the situation. Crap! Think, Marga. Think.  I felt him collapse on me.  I saw his pale face maski it was dark.  He was cold to the touch.  But he was still walking.  Kaya pa ba niya? Do we push?  Or when we do push, will he be worse off in the end? We’re here to make him finish , but in this situation, is it the right thing to do? Man!  He can’t go out like this.  He can’t DNF at a point where he’d really feel the DNF as a failure. (As a runner, you know what this means.)  There’s giving up and there’s giving up.  Lord, help.  What do we do?

We see Team Boring’s crew park beside us waiting for Gab, Mar and Doc T.  Their crew came to see how they can assist Pat and I hear Bong B (who’s running his first 102 next week) say, “ Pat! Mag donate ka naman ng support crew mo sa amin next week!” which drew laughter to all who could hear him.  Even I smiled.

I saw Gab walk to his crew and I gave him a hug.   He looked really strong, this one.  And as if the angels told me what to do, I told Gab, ‘ Please talk to Pat.  He’s thinking of dnf-ing.  He’ll listen to a fellow ultramarathoner.’  Gab went to Pat.  ‘Ano ka ba, Pat?!.  Kaya mo yan! Maski lakarin mo. Aabot ka ng cut-off.  Kaya kami nag ultra dahil sa yo! Ano ka ba?”

I was softly crying at this point, praying Pat heard him and gets re-inspired by the same people he inspired before.

I saw Ronald next and told him the same thing, ‘please talk to him.  He’ll listen to you.’ Ronald goes to him and like a bother spoke to him in a firm but caring voice. ‘Hindi ka pwedeng huminto. Maski lakarin mo.  Marga, maski i-pace ninyo na siya. Kesa naman bumagsak na naman yan sa gitna ng daan. Bro, kaya mo yan! Lakad lang! Tapusin lang natin.”

I was crying na talaga.  I told Beeps, can you please call Mrs. BR to ask if we can pace Pat already?  Natatakot  tayong mag-collapse na naman siya.  We know its only KM 81 but we’re really worried.  Beeps called.  They said for safety we can shadow him rather than leapfrog.  But we cannot pace him.  He’d be disqualified.  We understood.

While all this was going on, Pat had his eyes open and the crew was feeding him.  Gutom talaga.

He stood up and stretched. And took stock of everything that was told to him.  He said, ‘1K.’  Which meant he didn’t want a pacer and he sure as hell wouldn’t want us shadowing him.  We’d leapfrog. That was a small miracle we thanked God for.  He’s getting back on his feet.  He’d walk until he’s digested his food.  But he was ok.  I looked to Doc Pnx asking with my eyes if he’s good to go.  She nodded.  Moments like these were everyone’s focused on one goal, you can actually talk to each other with your minds.  There will be many of these moments later on in this story.

Pat started to walk on the dirt road.  Doc Pnx ran after him to give him water.  I see them talking.  She walked back to us and said, ‘hanggang 102 nalang daw ang kaya niyang tapusin’.

We drove about 400 meters into a gas station and Crew 2 turned over to us everything.  We decided that we will push him until he can’t be pushed anymore.  But we had the goal of finishing 160km and by golly, we sure as well will try our darndest!

KM 81-86 was a walk struggle for Pat and for us.  Very conscious of the 2 .5 hours delay we have on our target time as well as the 11:30PM cut-off at the KM 102 marker, we were computing and re-computing at every km.  What pace he needs to run in so he can make it and all that.

It was at KM 86 that Doc Pnx and Nick told Pat that he needed to pick up his pace so he can make it by cut-off time . Doc Pnx was not allowing Pat to stop anymore.  We were rushing everything to him- water, water with electrolytes, chocolates, egg para lang hindi na siya mabigyan ng dahilan huminto sa van.  And at the rate of 1km per leap frog, stopping is no longer an option.  Nick told him he needed a 9 or better pace. Jog lang huwag lang maglakad ng matagal.  Lauren said, if he just shaves off 2 minutes at every kilometer, he can make it with time to spare.

KM 87

It was at KM 87 that he began his rally and Doc Pnx and Nick decided to not let him stop longer than necessary. Doc Pnx was an awesome motivator, literally dragging Pat when he was slacking. ‘Hindi na pwedeng huminto. Hindi pwede maglakad. ‘ Of all of us, Doc Pnx had the only credentials as far as a runner is concerned in pushing Pat this way.  Pat will listen to her in sheer fear or embarrassment . Whatever works. LOL.

She would run after him after force feeding him chocnut so he can wash it down with water. And for Pat force feeding was our game plan at this last stretch.  Our mistake of letting him be when he said he’s not hungry or does not want to eat earlier will not be repeated.  We know better now.  He metabolizes really fast so he needed to be fed every kilometre.

We were so ecstatic every time we would see him from afar gaining speed and not walking.  In the dead of the night, Lauren, Doc Pnx and I would scream our cheers to him. It was pure joy to see him running and seeing that determined look on his face after what we witnessed at KM 81.  Every kilometre became a celebration.  And he was passing some runners already.  And we knew he needed to see that he can still pass some of them to go on.  As we leap frogged, we’ll see runner x and runner y and we’d scream inside the van ecstatic with the fact that he really is gaining ground-literally!

At one point in a long straight stretch of the road, we saw at least 10 vehicles with their hazard lights on parked on the right side of the road.  Dado, Nick, Lau and I looked at each other and said, ‘it means he has at least 10 runners he can surpass!’  This realization made us girls scream again! We see a group of runners walking.  I see Gab saying in a booming voice looking up in the sky, “Come Holy Spirit!…” I see Coach Mar going strong like an ox! Grabe! When he said the Angels were with him, he was not joking.  He looked really strong.

It was my turn to run after Pat at KM 100 na yata yun, I’m not sure.  He said, “Papahinag muna ako ng sandali pag dating sa van.”  I said, “ Do you see that line of cars with their blinking lights?  That’s how near you are to the other runners.  You can’t let up now!” (In my head, patay ako kay Doc Pnx pag huminto ka.  That was our pact.  To not make Pat walk at all anymore.)

Lo and behold, he didn’t stop at all and continued running.

Doc Pnx was in needles and pins because it was 11:03 or something and we led her to believe that cut-off was 11:30 when it was 11:45 because gun start was late.  So she was pushing Pat to his limit because she really thought cut off at 102 was 11:30.  She couldn’t stand it that  the buffer was mere minutes.  So she was pushing Pat like crazy. Hahaha

KM 102

Because we were all stickler for rules, we didn’t turn into the left turn for the 102km marker.  The support van went around so we didn’t see Pat beat the cut off time and essentially his finish.

I see him sitting down where Team Boring was and Doc Pnx talking to him and I see Doc Pnx eyes wet with tears.  I sat beside Pat., and with a questioning glance, Doc Pnx shook her head and bowed her face.  In my head, Oh no, I think Pat just DNF’d. His first words to me were, “Sorry.  Alam ko disappointed kayo.  Pero hindi ko na kaya.  Promise.”  Me: “Pahinga ka muna.  Don’t think about it.”  Pat: “Hindi na talaga.  Ganito naramdaman ko sa Botak when I was rushed to the emergency room. Kilala ninyo ko, hindi ako quitter.  Pero …” Nick: “Pare, pahinga ka muna. Relaks lang” Gab: “ Mamaya ka na mag decide pare. Pahinga muna.” Pat: (shaking his head). Me: myHoff, hindi ka naman naming pipilitin kung hindi mo na kaya, kaya lang, ang lakas mon from 87-102 eh.  Marami kang nalampasan and you finished. Ngayon ka pa ba hihinto?” Sid: “pare, game. Masahihin muna kita. (as he lays down the black bag so Pat cay lie down)”

When you touched the side of his thighs, he would scream in pain.  Doc Pnx, Nick, Lau, Dado and I looked at each other to see what we can do, vacillating yet again between allowing him to stop and pushing him some more with just hand signals.

I said to Pat: “ myHoff, you can’t stop like this.  You just can’t.  You’ve done this 102km twice or thrice already right?  This should be more than 102km.  C’mon, you can give us another kilometre.  Maka 103km ka lang, ok na. If you still feel you can’t, then  I’ll shut up (I said this on the premise of how he rallied that last 15km strong and I said, ako lang anmana ng mag shut up, not any of the support crew. Hehe). He didn’t say anything.

And like a precious kitten, we moved him to the van not saying much so as not to mess up his thought process.  Maybe he was thinking of a come-back and he’s not just saying it. It was a long walk to the van, though.  He couldn’t  bend his knees.  Both knees. Tsk.Tsk.  We were half carrying him and as he tried to move into the van, I felt him shiver. We all forgot that he had his shirt off and he was having chills as his body temperature levelled down. Nakow!  Jacket please!  Since he couldn’t move fast enough to get into the van, we scrambled for anything to cover him with.  Body warmth was his first line of defense.  He got into the van.  We told him to sleep for at least20 minutes and we’d talk to him after and decide if he was to continue on.  After a few minutes, his whole body was having spasms.  He still was not talking. We covered him up at which point Doc Pnx said, “Ano, swero-han na kita?” said in half-jest.  Pat said in a very small but lucid voice, “Pag nag swero, DQ…” Lau and I shouted with joy because it meant he wasn’t DNF-ing.  Not yet at least…

As we silently closed the sliding doors of the van, you could see from the outside an exhausted warrior sleeping in the dark, using two (2) sarongs as blanket.  You can hear the faint sound of the soothing music of waterfalls and the ocean to aid in hastening his sleep.  The good healer sitting beside the warrior regularly checks his vital signs making sure the spasms that manifests itself every once in a while is just spasms and nothing more severe.

As we walked into the road, we saw the almost fallen soldiers recuperating in their own way – massages in the ambulance, dinner, music, resignation, a quiet jubilation.  At 12:40AM Sunday, February 27, 2011, the second to the last warrior left KM 102 and continued on to attempt to run 58 more  kilometres.

The last warrior left at almost 12:50AM struggling with every step, with a friend by his side and his carriage with his ladies in waiting patiently seeing him through the last kilometre he promised to run/walk for them.  That was the most joyful DNF anyone could have asked for.

KM 102-103

Poor Nick. He was soooo excited to pace Pat not just 10km as planned but 58 km if need be. But alas, the fates were not with him that fateful Sunday dawn…

Or maybe Fate was with Nick…laughing behind the clouds as it made Nick pace Pat at the bestest pace Nick can muster…

40 minutes to a kilometer…

Pat could barely walk and was just trying to do so, so as not to disappoint his Entoraj (we fondly call ourselves Pat’s entoraj). Excited Nick (I can’t stop laughing!) realizing this was going to be the longest kilometer of his life, gets 2 packs of chips from the van. Akala namin for Pat. Para sa kanya pala. Chika pace kung chika pace! hahahaha

Lauren, Doc Pnx, Dado and I were laughing so hard at the picture this 2 brought to the fore that Pat was getting annoyed already. He has no choice but to take in the ribbing because he was in too much pain. hahaha

At exactly KM 103, Pat said. Oh, 1 kilometer na. Nick asked again, ‘Oh, mag de declare na ka ba ng DNF?’ Pat said with no hurt in his eyes, ‘Oo. DNF na’

Funnier part: As Pat was getting into the van, I thought Nick had him and Nick though I had him and we both left him at the same time. Next thing you hear, “Hoy! Mahuhulog ako,” as we saw him slipping down the side of the van. I couldn’t help him in because I was laughing so hard.

*We called in a DNF for Patrick Winceth Alcomendas at KM 103 at 1:30AM.  Proudly and with Love.

Epilogue1: We proceeded to the hotel  where Doc Pnx quickly administered to run 2 bottles of dextrose on Pat for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  His body would still involuntarily go into spasms even when he was asleep.

The Nightmare of Botak 100 Still Hounds Pat.

In the morning, Crew 2 would run an ice bath for him which was the funniest thing in the world .  Doc Apple would take pictures of Pat inside the tub of ice as Sheila would count to 20 seconds.  He hated it. LOL.

Epilogue 2: I asked Pat if I could write about this whole experience and he said, ‘pwede bang Anonymous Runner na lang ako?’  Sabi ko, ‘Sure!’ Hence the title. Bow.

Pat's Entoraj

Anonymous Runner (Part 1)

As we silently closed the sliding doors of the van, you could see from the outside an exhausted warrior sleeping in the dark, using two (2) sarongs as blanket.  You can hear the faint sound of the soothing music of waterfalls and the ocean to aid in hastening his sleep.  The good healer sitting beside the warrior regularly checks his vital signs making sure the spasms that manifests itself every once in a while is just spasms and nothing more severe.

This is KM 102.

As each team re-groups and assesses the physical, emotional and mental health of their runner, you can feel exhaustion in the air.  You can feel the depleted energy all around.  But the atmosphere was still hopeful. Team Boring had their crew at a small square beside the chapel, eating, telling stories of their experiences.  Sid was massaging Gab. As in full on massage, ha? Not the  emergency cramp massage you get when you run.  Doc T with Doc Alpha was draining his blisters (take note, plural) with a syringe and I had to look away imagining the pain.  Talks of who DNF’d abound.  It was told in respect.  In surprise, but in respect.  Because every one of these warriors had their own story to tell, they respected the decision of their comrades to stop when they did.  No judgment.

But while there were no judgment , you can see there was the tug-of-war feeling of, ‘If he stopped, why do I think I can proceed? He’s the smarter one for stopping. Maybe I should too’  and of ‘ Wow. He stopped.  And I’m still okay to continue on.  Maybe I can really finish this.’   One of Team Boring’s support crew realized this early on and decided to not tell any of their runners that one of their own stopped at KM 69.  They knew this would demoralize the team and could give one a license to stop too (you know we still love you, runner  620 *wink.)

But I’m getting ahead of the story.  Let’s start from the very beginning.

January 2010. Matsuyama, Japan.

I get a YM from Pat that went something like this –

Pat: myhoffness, may gagawin ka sa March 5-6, 2011?
Me: Myhoff, grabe naman, kakabili ko lang ng 2010 calendar, 2011 na tinatanong mo.
Pat: may gagawin ka nga ng dates na yun?
Me: wala pa siyempre, diba? Im afraid to ask why
Pat: BDM 160 kasi yung weekend na yun and gusto ko sana itanong kung pwede kang maging support ko.
Me: Nakow! 14 months ang booking?! (tried to message something inane to give me sometime to think)
Me: (lunok) OK. I’ll be there.

Fast forward to:

January 2011 , Red Crab in Greenbelt 3

Pat hosted a dinner at Red Crab as an advanced appreciation dinner for his support crew and also as a way for the whole team to meet as one as not everyone knew everybody yet. ( We would like to thank Doc Sherwin and his wife, Elaine  for the very generous discount they gave for that evening.) There was me, Lauren, Doc Pinx.  We met for the first time Dado, Doc Apple, Sheila, Irene and Aileen.  As each of the girls came into the restaurant, I started laughing realizing Pat’s criteria for picking his support crew.  Kailangan maganda! That broke the ice for everyone.  We were all dumbfounded as well on why there were so many of us supporting just one runner.  We laughed about this a lot and even other runners wondered why there were so many of us. This was a running joke throughout. (There’s genius to Pat’s numbers in the crew. And we only realized this at the later km of the race.  You need your crew fresh at each turn so they are not as wasted as the runner that when runner says ‘ayoko na,’ the fresh crew can be in high spirits and say, ‘No!’ and mean it.  Whereas kung pareho kayong pagod, if runner says no more, because you’re also tired, you can agree na lang rin.)

This became our first meeting as well where we assigned two teams within the crew who would take on alternating shifts so one team is resting at any point in the race.  Each team would have a doctor, a driver, a feeder, a navigator, a time logger and any one of these members can double as the communications person and the photographer.  We assigned Aileen as one who would be in charge of the food and hydration of the 10 support crew members.  To make sure the crew is also taken cared of throughout the race.

February, Center for Aesthetic Studies, Bel-Air Makati

We had our final meeting after back and forth FB messages on February  in my office.  It was here that Nick and Beeps were added to the team, with Beeps as driver and Nick as navigator .  Aileen finalized the support crew’s food menu for 24 hours.  We worked on Pat’s target time of 24 hours to finish 160km.  We plotted the route and his target time per 5km.  We finalized the 6-hour shift per crew, where we divided the day into hours rather than kilometres.  Pat took care of the hotel the crew was staying in.  Irene knew of a friend at km 20 where they can have breakfast and rest.  The doctors will be preparing dextrose for Pat because of his BOTAK experience 2 years back just to be on the safe side. Better over-ready than not, we figure.  The girls promised to not bring too many things para magkasya everyone and the supplies in Dado’s van and Aileen’s car (lol).  And everything was set.

February 25, 10PM, EDSA Central

Most team members met up at EDSA Central and they were picking me Lau and Beeps at Munoz’ McDonalds.  Lau and I had a good laugh on Beep’s textbook reading material of ‘Office Share’.  When do you think you’ll read that at the course of the race, and why that book. J

Dado was driving the Starex with Nick navigating.  Pat, Lauren, Doc Pnx and I were at the back.  In Aileen’s car were Irene, Beeps, Sheila, and Doc Apple.

February 26, KM 0 2AM

We got to KM 0 at around 2AM and we already saw a couple of runners who travelled the same time we did.  Some of our friends travelled the day before so they can rest in Bataan.

We placed the Bataan Death March tarpaulin on the van and obsessive-compulsive Dado reminded us to make sure the tape is placed evenly. Doc Pinx ‘careered’ it tuloy. J We placed it on the bottom back of the van. We were so proud of our small accomplishment until we realized we couldn’t open the back because we covered the handle with the tarp. And what is a support crew if you can’t readily open the back for the supplies, right? FAIL! And because we did such an awesome job on the even-ness of the yellow tape, we didn’t want o remove it anymore.  So some genius decides to cut a slit on the handle of it.  FAIL turned funny SUCCESS.  (lol)

See that slit on the tarpaulin? Genius!

On the urging of Ronnel, Crew 1 (Beeps, Nick, Marga, Doc Pinx, Lauren) decides to go to KM 7 already so we can easily park.  It was Crew 2 ( Dado, Aileen, Doc Apple, Irene, Sheila) who would see Pat gun off (approximately 5:50AM).  They would then proceed to KM 20 to rest at a friends’ house and resume their supporting duties at 12NN.

KM 7

We see a bunch of cars parked and we made kapit bahay at Ronald’s support crew Carina and Pepsi and a couple of Ronald’s mountaineer friends.  They had a lutuan with butane, and already had a fire going with boiling water for coffee and instant noodles.  It was ‘brrrr’ cold J . But it was so much fun to see runner friends supporting another runner.  The mood was very festive at 6AM J

In the distance we hear the wang wang signifying the first runner coming.  And we see it’s one of our own Wilnar.  (Wilnar finished at a strong 17:35 and as we get updates from Earl his support crew, we are amazed at the speed he was doing it in! A-Mazing!)  Right beside him was an attorney. They were followed by a couple of Singaporean nationals.  We saw a couple of other runners and then we see a red shirt coming to us.  It’s Pat! Wow! That was fast.  (the first 7km is a tricky pure winding uphill that a saner runner would walk to conserve his legs). He didn’t need anything pa and he just said to meet him at KM 10.

KM 20 7:43AM

Pat was doing really well on time but we were over hydrating him.  Between lack of sleep and having his last meal as dinner, we made our first error as a support crew when we allowed him to drink too much water on this first leg.  He realized this as well as hunger set in and ate while walking at some parts of the course.

KM 34

He was making too many stops in this last 14 km.  We were keeping track of everything he ate and drank but we allowed him to skip eating at some parts when he had his momentum going.

KM 50

We tagged team with Crew 2 at KM 49-50.  Doc Pnx turned over to Doc Apple his BP and heart rate as well as telling Sheila, the resident physical therapist any pain Pat was feeling.  Lauren turned over the time log to Irene.  Nick turned over the food and hydration situation to Aileen and the navigation to Dado.  Beeps was continuing on to drive for the team as he was supposed to leave by 6PM to go back to Manila.  He was doing a 12-hour driving shift.

It was at KM 50 that we found out that Pat’s rank was #26 out of the 59 who started earlier.  We saw at this pitstop Mark Hernz and OJ. They were buddying it up in this race and we had some pretty nice shots of  these two  running.

We left Pat to the able hands of Crew 2 and I drove to KM 102 where our hotel was.  The moment Doc Pnx hit her head on the pillow, she was out. J Nick, Lau and I puttered around until we fell asleep as well.  We set our alarm to 5PM  (this was around 1:30) so we can go back to our support duties by 6PM.

I get a message from Carina at around 4PM asking where we were because they just passed Pat at KM 64 and Pat was already contemplating DNF-ing.  Nagising ako ng di-oras sa nerbiyos.  (as you can see, I’m easily excitable. lol) I texted Irene and asked how Pat was and she said he’s ok naman.  I’m thinking, what they hey, Pat? Why are you telling another support crew you want to stop when your own support crew is just one km away! After a short assessment, we figured it together with Crew # 2, Pat’s feeling dejected because Ronald is passing him by.  Don’t get me wrong.  These two are ultra-buddies from way back.  But because he was tired already, any reason to stop will make him want to stop talaga – pain here and there (hamstring & itb) , the heat, the dust, a couple of runners passing you on the road…In short, nag-iinarte lang. LOL.  But Carina and Pepsi aside from Crew # 2 of course, boosted his morale as he passed KM 66 and we got reports that he was running again. Yey!

KM61

Pat complained on feeling cramps on his quads. Shiela gave him a good massage and stretch until his muscles relaxed. He also changed his duct tape. How we wish we knew the exact measure of tape and how to wrap it on his foot because his hands were shaking while he was cutting the excess tape and we just stood there watching him and holding the roll of duct tape. We started being more conscious on his electrolyte and salt intake. As the van left him to leapfrog to the next 2km, we could see him walking with pain in his face.

KM63
We waited for him at KM63. He was taking a bit too long. Shiela rushed to Pat when she saw him from the distance. We sat him down at the kilometer marker as Shiela tried to locate which part of his left thigh was tense. This is the part where Pat started to hate Beeps. Beeps grabbed his left thigh and gave it a deep tissue massage which elicited shouts of “Aray! Masakit! Tama na!”. Beeps replied “Alam ko masakit” as he continued to massage Pat’s glutes. We squirmed together with Pat each time he let out a cry of pain. The girls tried to cheer him up while he was shouting. After some stretching Pat stood up and walked to the other side of the road. We saw him limping and so the crew went back to check on him. Beeps and Shiela gave him one last massage and set him off.

“Aray! Masakit! Tama Na!”

KM 65
We waited anxiously at KM 65. While waiting, we received a text message from Marga saying that Pat told Carina he was DNFing. The crew was surprised. Seeing him from the distance, the crew rushed to him checking on his condition. AS Marga instructed, we told Pat that Wilnar will be coming back to pace him after he finishes the race. This made him smile. The crew gave him some words of encouragement. “Kaya mo pa yan. Runner X is just 10mins ahead of you.” And so Pat set off again. Shiela told the crew his muscles were already relaxed at nagiinarte lang siya. So the crew cheered him as the vehicle passed by. We knew he was in back in the game at the next stopover when he asked what time he left KM50. He started to run again at this point checking his time every stop over. Nabuhayan din ang crew.

Crew #2 told us to take our time because they were okay pa to support Pat.  Instead of 6PM, we can take over mga 7PM or 8PM.  We took our time eating and prepping with me and Doc Pnx putting make-up on pa that Doc Pnx even said, “pag hindi pa naman niya natapos itong race na to!” LOL.  We passed by McDonalds and had sundaes and coffee  pa.  We wanted to run after Wilnar on McArthur Hi-Way but decided to just see the beginning of the route of McArthur Hi-Way then head back to Crew # 2.

 

To Be Continued…

Too Much For One Heart

A little girl  slowly removes the white  ribbon,  peaking through a small opening
of her box. Upon slightly seeing a stuff toy and a book inside,  she  immediately
closes it.  She lovingly re-ties the ribbon, making sure she ties it right.

A 5-year old boy removes the blue ribbon wrapped around a Zip Locked pack.
He’s disappointed that the pack did not open when he removed the ribbon;
turns it over and around and yet nothing.
We realize he didn’t know how to
open the zip lock.  And as we look around, the others were also dumbfounded.
We started helping them and showing them how to open and close the zip locked
plastic. And they oooh-ed and aaaaah-ed and laughed.  The 5-year old boy gingerly
pulled out one item after another, and his eyes shone in excitement and disbelief.
He says, “Wow! At may bag pa!” when he saw the folded knapsack, in utter disbelief
that this was all for him.

Another child refuses to open their box.  Waiting instead to open it at home and share
it with his brothers and sisters.

 

These are just some scenes from the first distribution of the Angelito’s Project of  Angel Brigade (AB) in Manila.

Tisha C. Bautista, managing director of Isdanco Foundation and founder of Angel Brigade, together with Marga Uy Baula, an AB volunteer shared  350 shoeboxes to  school children in Tondo, Manila.

Field of Dreams

The school is located in the rehabilitated area of Smokey Mountain, with a small placard sign that says Field of Dreams.

The school is made up of container vans stacked on top of each other, designed appropriately to be a real school.

Surrounded by the port area on one side and the Field of Dreams on the other, the PCF in its

School made up of Container Vans

newness and excited and passionate administrators, teachers, social workers, volunteers, and  sponsors (Coca-Cola, Sa Aklat Sisikat, & Angel Brigade to name a few) seems to be a beacon of hope amidst the obvious  needs  of the children.

The kids’ excitement upon seeing the LBC boxes in time for their Christmas Party was enough for us to get excited as well.

LBC Boxes

As we moved from one room to another, trying to get them excited by asking, “Alam niyo ba kung saan galing ang mga regalo na ito?”; we ourselves laughed when they answered, “Sa LBC!” “Kay Santa Claus”.  We happily explained that a child in their same age and gender lovingly prepared their box all the way from the United States of America.  Whether or not they understood the distance we meant or who the twin heart was who prepared their box, it mattered more to them that the boxes were bursting in the seams which meant that they themselves can give something to their brothers and sisters when they get home.

A gift of one child a thousand miles away has made at least 3 hearts a-flutter this Christmas.

This project would not have been possible without the sincere initiative of Ms. Susan Afan, who as early as September 2010 has been soliciting shoeboxes from SoCal.  Your initiative and your friends’ generosity have made so many children happy.  May you continue to be blessed with all that is good and holy. Other recipients of  the Angelitos  shoeboxes were: Kid Cancer Warriors  from CareWell,  Sacro Costato Mission in Montalban , QC Streetchildren,  children of  St. Michael Parish Taguig, Fr. Arnold Eramis.

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